So what exactly is a trademark?

Almost everyone has undoubtedly seen the trademark symbol beneath the logo or image of numerous products: ® or ™. But what does that mean? And how does that symbol get there? Here is how the law defines trademarks according to 15 U.S.C. § 1127:

“The term “trademark” includes any word, name, symbol, or device, or any combination thereof (used) to identify and distinguish his or her goods, including a unique product, from those manufactured or sold by others and to indicate the source of the goods, even if that source is unknown.”

The real purpose of trademarking something is to put an official seal on a product to indicate its genuine source or place of creation. Think of trademarks like a badge of authenticity. Of course, this has obvious appeal to consumers who need to rely on this stamp when purchasing items. They want to know that what they are buying is what it appears to be and not a fake version of it. However, producers also place an extraordinary amount of reliance on the trademarking process because they invest a lot of time and resources into their brand. Over time, their work or product become known by these names, symbols, or devices. It would all be for naught if someone else could duplicate this image, especially if it was done in a subpar manner. Therefore, trademarks simultaneously protect the investment of suppliers and consumers. But what can you trademark? Here is a simple list of things commonly trademarked:

  • A word.
  • A group of words.
  • A logo or symbol.

However, trademarks can also be applied to more exotic versions of brand display including:

  • Colors.
  • Smells.
  • Shapes.

In the next article, we discuss the various kinds of trademarks as well as their most relevant applications.

Next: What are the different kinds of trademarks?

© 2016 John V. Robinson, P.C.

© 2016 John V. Robinson, P.C.